Pump and Burn in Weight Training
The "Pump" and "burn" are common gym slang among weight trainers and bodybuilders. See what's happening and what it means for your training. When you train hard in the gym, especially when you train to failure, you will notice two things:
Burn: Burning sensation in the muscles during exercise.
Pump: Swelling of the muscles during and after exercise.
The muscle burn comes first, in a sense, because it's the first thing you feel when you're on the rep limit and / or the weight you can lift. High reps with a lighter weight can also lead to burns. The burning sensation occurs when the muscles enter anaerobic territory.
Anaerobic means "without oxygen", but in exercise physiology, it really means that the intake and supply of oxygen cannot meet the demands of your muscles. In this anaerobic scenario, acidic conditions and hydrogen ion production build up and a burning sensation results when nerve cells and receptors are affected.
The burning sensation was previously thought to be caused by lactic acid / lactate, which occurs under these conditions. But now we know that lactate is probably an auxiliary response, an attempt by the body to remove these hydrogen ions.
Training helps your muscles deal with this acidic environment and athletes who need to compete in this anaerobic state should also train in this environment. Burnout is used by muscle builders and bodybuilders to increase muscle development. Lactic or at least acidic metabolic conditions seem to aid muscle growth.
Myths about burns include that it is related to burning fat. This is not the source of the sensation and, in fact, fat is not burned in the anaerobic glycolytic phase, the body only burns glycogen.
Exercising until you feel the burn is not a sure way to determine if exercise is effective. The weakest muscles will be the first to produce the burning sensation.
After a weight training session, you may notice a feeling of "fullness" in your muscles. It's not exactly swelling, which implies a medical condition, but definitely an enlarged sensation, which is also noticeable visually. This is "the bomb."
The pump is caused by blood plasma being trapped in the spaces between muscle cells by the action of muscle contraction. It takes about 30 minutes after the session ends. Bodybuilders will use it to improve definition before taking the stage to be judged.
This does not appear to have adverse health effects; however, you need to maintain adequate glycogen (glucose) stores and be well hydrated to ensure good pumping. Low carb diets are not a good approach. If you want to show off your weapons, you can use the bomb to increase them to a higher caliber.
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